Re-Programmable Space for Urban Innovation

Scholarly article titled, Transdisciplinary research in sustainability science: practice, principles, and challenges by Daniel Lang [and others] claim, “There is emerging agreement that sustainability challenges require new ways of knowledge production and decision-making.” There are many innovative urban projects engineered to protect the environment as well as its citizens. For instance, Re-Programmable Space improves urban life around the globe with its sustainable solutions to infrastructure problems.

Question: What role does this urban innovation project have for the city’s sustainable development goals?

The World Economic Forum named the top 10 urban innovations of 2015; ranking Re-Programmable Space as first. This project was given a 9/10 rating for a 2020 vision, a 10/10 for smart savings in terms of efficiency and resource management, a 4/10 live ability bonus regarding improvement to quality of life, a 4/10 commercial clout regarding potential for economic development or new business models and services, and lastly, a 7/10 for game changer, referring to the project’s disruptive and life changing impact. “A carpark becomes a yoga studio; a school becomes a theater.”[1] There are many innovative ways to improve urban space and sustainability in cities everywhere.


This project implements a decrease in sprawl, re-using space in a number of ways. For instance, turning roads into bicycle paths in New York, and shrinking the city limits in Vancouver. “The re-purposing of urban space is breathing life into historic city centers and saving infrastructure costs.”[2]

Scott Burnham writes, “to unlock the full potential of our cities and solve pressing problems we must reimagine the existing urban infrastructure.”[3] Across the world, city officials are partnering with engineers and corporate R&D teams to improve access to essential resources like water, energy, and sunlight as well as boosting social and environmental wellbeing.

An example of the project in action involves the limited access to clean drinking water issue for those living on the edges of Peru’s capital. Small wells supply most of the water, which has been described as “unpleasant and polluted,” and in the summer there is a small quantity available.[4] Tackling the issue, Engineers at the local University of Engineering and Technology (UTEC) decided to make better use of the two of the city’s more abundant resources: the costal air (which can reach 98% humidity) and the billboards that stretch into it. In the village of Bujama, they installed this humidity collector and water purifier into the top of one advertising structure, thus creating the UTEC Water Billboard. This Water Billboard can produce 96 liters of clean drinking water a day for local residents.[5]

Re-programming Space plays an economic, social, and environmental role for cities around the world who implement the re-use of existing urban infrastructure. Economic in terms of the large sum of money saved due to re-use of space; social in terms of improving existing urban spaces in cities, offering a better quality of life; lastly, environmental in terms of the amount of energy conserved due to re-programming existing space rather than building additional infrastructure.


[1] World Economic Forum, 2015

[2] World Economic Forum, 2015

[3] S. Burnham, The Guardian, 2013

[4] S. Burnham, The Guardian, 2013

[5] S. Burnham, The Guardian, 2013







One thought on “Re-Programmable Space for Urban Innovation

  1. This is an awesome way to engage the community in a sustainable project. It is one example of relying on them to make a difference. Most sustainable projects are independent of people but this one forces people to become aware. of change.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s